Did my first real cyclocross workout of the season last week. There's this nice community park about 10 miles from my house that has all the components for a cross course. It's got a nice steep hill for run-ups and fast descents, lots of bumpy, grassy field, a section of dirt/wood chip trail through the woods, and even a sand volleyball court if you want to hit the beach. I've constructed a set of portable barriers from PVC tubes that fit into a backpack (a variation of the Greg Keller design, with longer sections making for fewer pieces). These work really well in a pinch, although not quite as formidable as a solid piece of plywood staked into the ground, it at least helps resurrect that buried muscle-memory.
I forgot how fun/hard cross is. It's one of those things that can't be mimicked on the road or trail. After about an hour, I noticed my lungs hurt, cross forces you to breathe a lot deeper, drawing breaths from the depths of your thorax. My aerobic capacity is up there from road racing all summer, but nothing can prepare you for the sheer oxygen debt that cyclocross brings with it.
My buddy Steve joined my at the park and he made me realize I need a lot of practice with the bike handling skills. He could literally turn circles around me, especially on the off-camber stuff. He's a mountain biker, so I can learn a lot from him in that department.
I'm so excited for the cross season that I almost want to just ditch my last couple of road races and immerse myself in the 'crossy goodness.
Mud, Snow, Rain, Embrocation, Frozen Toes, Oxygen Debt - Cyclocross Season is almost here!